Vincent van Gogh famously painted sunflowers during his time at Arles in France. But he also painted oleanders. He reportedly found them ‘joyous’ and ‘life-affirming’ because of their inexhaustible blooms and vigour. I know what he meansOur oleanders continue to flower from spring through autumn, in a mixture of red, pink and white. Now taller than me, oleanders can grow up to 6m tall. On our terraces, they mix with climbing roses, ivy and tall grasses. No sooner have the petals started to shrivel on one plant, than buds form on another. Even the dead flower bracts have appeal.
Oleander is a famously toxic garden plant, though huge quantities have to be consumed. Birds are thought to be immune; a fact that our sparrows and blackbirds can confirm as they regularly seek the shade of the oleanders on summer days.
5 to remember
jubiloso – joyous
marchitarse – to shrivel
una bráctea de flores– a flower bract
tóxico – toxic
un hecho que– a fact that
If you’d like to read more about Vincent van Gogh in Arles, the sunflowers and the oleanders, read ‘The Yellow House’ by Martin Gayford [UK: Penguin]